[lit-ideas] Re: Thereabouts

  • From: david ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2015 11:13:41 -0800

On Dec 6, 2015, at 10:28 PM, John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Have you heard of the Common Potoo? Found in Amazonia, this insectivorous
hawk, has evolved an artful camouflage. Perched on top of a broken palm trunk
it fades into the break. Looks exactly like the broken bit. Devilish cunning
that bird.

Thanks for this. I looked up images on the web. What an extraordinary beast.
“Related to nightjars and frogmouths.” Seems ripe for Lear-ean touch.

A Frenchman named Louis
described de common patooie,
as someting one keeps taxonomically
beside de nightjar,
which is not at all far
from de bird
of de gob
of de frog.

Another favorite from our recent visit to Ecuador was the Hauxin (pronounced
"Watson") and nick-named "stinky turkey." It consumes large leaves and has a
digestive tract so designed that it renders the flesh of the bird disgusting
and inedible to potential predators. "Alimentary, my dear" instantly comes to

Wiki spells it Hoatzin, from the Greek genus, blah blah, meaning, “wearing long
hair behind.” What you’ve got there, son, is a mullet bird. Or a punk. “The
taxonomic position of this family has been greatly debated, and is still far
from clear.” Quite right too. Can’t have that sort of look in the nice tidy
jungle. No sir. Not no way.

More seriously, "In 2015, genetic research[5]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoatzin#cite_note-5> indicated that the hoatzin
is the last surviving member of a bird line that branched off in its own
direction 64 million years ago, shortly after the extinction event that killed
the non-avian dinosaurs.[6] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoatzin#cite_note-6>
This makes it the oldest living line of birds, as the last common ancestor of
the remaining birds are all younger.[7]

What a wonder.

David Ritchie,
biologically ignorant in
Portland, Oregon

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